The son of a property dealer in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district, Prateek Bajaj almost became a CA and joined his father’s business. However destiny had other plans. A lecture on bio-waste management changed his career goals overnight, and today he is the owner of Sehyogi Biotech, a vermicompost enterprise that impacts hundreds of farmers while cleaning our country.
Supplying vermicompost under the brand name ‘Ye Lo Khaad’, Prateek’s enterprise earns him a turnover of ₹12 lakhs every year.
It was 2015. Prateek, then 19 years old, had cleared the CPT exam to get into CA and was doing well in his studies. His elder brother had recently started a dairy farm and was going to training in dairy farming at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, IVRI Izatnagar. As Prateek had time, he accompanied his brother to the training and learnt the basics of bio waste and vermicomposting. He found it so interesting that he decided to complete the training.
Prateek wondered why the cow dung and urine in his brother’s dairy farm are given away when it could be used effectively for composting. He continued to go to IVRI and learnt making compost with his own hands. With support from IVRI scientists, he also kept reading, researching and experimenting on improving traditional composting.
After six months, Prateek told his parents he had decided to quit CA and start making vermicompost.
Not surprisingly, his father did not approve. But when Prateek made and sold his first vermicompost, his father had to accept the fact that his son’s heart was in this new found passion.
“I would have studied for 10 hours a day and become a CA but that wouldn’t have made me happy. Here I can work 24 hours at my plant happily, and won’t even ask for a break. One has to find their passion and make it a career; only then work is fun,” he says.
As his family agreed, Prateek bought seven bighas of agricultural land in Pardholi village of and started his vermicompost unit in June 2015. There was no looking back.
In opening the unit, Prateek had a vision to do his bit to solve the country’s waste management concerns and help farmers too.
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He experimented with various techniques, and different types of waste including temple flowers, vegetable waste and the residual waste from sugar manufacturing. He also added neem leaves to the vermicompost whose antibiotic qualities had pest resilience potential.
Soon Prateek bought some more land and started organic farming, using his own vermicompost, manure and chemical-free pesticides. He found that if a certain amount of cow urine and neem leaves are added, the compost requirement of soil lowers to half without affecting the produce. Moreover this method attracted very less insects and pests making the crop healthier. Tests also showed him that using this compost made the soil more fertile.
“See, this a chain. If you use organic compost and manure, your soil will remain healthy and produce healthy plants, eventually making the one consuming it healthier too,” says Prateek.
Prateek also trains farmers in vermicomposting, free of cost. He has developed a method of making vermicompost in a small pot (matka). This enables farmers to make their compost without incurring the cost of constructing a traditional brick bed to get the process started.
Initially there were just six farmers who adopted Prateek’s method, but now there are 42 farmers who have been benefitted from his experiments.
“All the farmers who are with me have come through word of mouth. It is very difficult to change the farmers from the traditional way of farming, however they believe what they see and when they saw the results in my farm and other farmers’ farms too, they joined me,” he says.
Prateek claims that while a farmer has to spend up to ₹4500 per acre of land only on chemical fertilisers, his compost and organic manure makes the soil so fertile that they do not have to buy urea or any other chemical fertilizer or pesticide ever. Thus they spend only about ₹1000 per acre to make the compost and manure, which eventually increases their income. Moreover organically produced crops command higher rates in the market.
“I have sold my organic wheat grain for double the rate of normal wheat grain in the market. This clearly means that if you grow organic you have to invest the least and you can earn the most,” he explains.
Now 22 year old, Prateek sells his compost to big nurseries in Noida, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur and many more cities across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He also does door-to-door delivery in nearby cities and has inspired many youngsters living in urban areas to take up waste management and farming.
He continues to experiment with various bacteria, and components of the compost to make the soil healthier. Determined to clean the country and make its soil fertile, Prateek feels blessed to be part of an occupation where each day is an opportunity to do something new.
To know more about composting you can contact Prateek Bajaj at firstname.lastname@example.org